Northern Heritage is delighted to bring to you another insightful and thrilling encounter from our My Northern Experience session as we engage one of our distinguished brother who has spent most of his life in the northern part of the country. He is a soccer enthusiast and a professional nurse. He is a gentleman who admires northern cultures and traditions but is quite sceptical due to modernism and formal education. He was born and grew up in Bawku. However, he stayed and completed his JHS education in Accra and moved back to the north for his studies and currently residing in Bawku. He has accumulated enormous northern experiences he is willing to share with us.

With the help of one of our moderators Bagura Shamuddeen, our guest will take us through his life journeys travelling across the length and breadth of northern Ghana and his stay in Accra for a couple of years. The northern lifestyles and cultures he has encountered and his perspectives on them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, fill your calabashes with pito or kookoo as we take you through a refreshing ride to the north.

Shamuddeen: We are very happy to have you tonight on our program.

Mr Awal Mohammed: It’s a pleasure to be with you guys tonight.

Shamuddeen: Without much ado. Distinguish members will like to know who Mr Awal Mohammed is?

Mr Awal Mohammed: This question has always been a very big issue to me. I find it very troubling to explain to people about myself for them to really grasp or understand me. Thankfully this is all about northern Ghana and my experiences I will try as much as possible to highlight that aspect of myself, initially I thought it was going to be centred on career and educational achievements.

Well I goes by the name Mohammed Awal, a graduate nurse and a product of NMTC Nalerigu, a soccer enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a key member of Northern Heritage.

I was born and raised in Bawku, currently residing there, but I have travelled across the length and bread of northern Ghana and a bit of the south. I have been to Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Nalerigu, Bole, Walewale and even the towns of my slaves, Tamale, Savelugu, Yendi, Kunbungu and many others to civilise them.

I am a proud northerner and a believer of culture and traditions. I seldom travel to my grandfather's land which is in Burkina Faso. I am ashamed most of these journeys are not for traditional purposes however I am happy to get in touch with the family there in order to keep up with the lineage. I am a proud member of the Mossi kingdom (Grand masters of the dagombas).

Shamuddeen: Wow exquisite write-up. I was also told Tamale was saddened when you decided to move back to Bawku and stay for a while.

Mr Awal Mohammed: Definitely, they should be saddened. It was not easy thriving to civilize them and been their ruler. And they have really missed that.

Shamuddeen: Back to our discussion, can you please tell us where you grew up?

Mr Awal Mohammed: Well, like I said I had my fundamental nurturing right from birth to childhood in the north but later moved to the southern part of the country specifically Ashaiman, after my parents relocated there.  

Shamuddeen: That’s good to know. It seems to me you have eaten too much Tuo Zafi and you have made things very clear to us, but I think it will make an impact to tell us your first experience at the north?  

Mr Awal Mohammed: My first contact and experience of life in this world is Bawku a renowned business town situated at the eastern part of Bolgatanga. So basically, I was born in the north got nurtured from neonatal stage to childhood in Bawku. It was a very lovely place to grow up. I did enjoyed my childhood days over there.

Shamuddeen: Since you spent most of your childhood at the north, how was it growing up?

Mr Awal Mohammed: Growing up in Bawku was phenomenal and I cherished those memories. I had a feel of both extended families of my mom and dad. In other words, I lived with both families. Living in an extended family was to me termed cool. You meet a lot of relatives and family friends every day. And also protection, shelter, food and so on even when your parents are not around. During those awesome days, we the grandchildren play and have fun with our grandparents. Moreover, we the children have games like hide and seek which we termed "pilolo", storytelling night, mom and dad play among others.

I experienced diverse cultural practices such as the Mossi, Mamprusi, Kusasi and the "Busanga ethnic groups. The popular Mossi practice was the buud yelle festival where all the sections of the Mossi kingdom comes together to celebrate and remember their ancestors.

And the Bissa to celebrate Z3kula to preach unity and teach others on its culture and traditions. The people of the kusasi also celebrate samampiid that marks the harvesting time. And that of the damba festival celerated by the Mamprusi where there's a unique way of beating drums and wearing of smocks to signify the damba festival.


Shamuddeen: I guess same applies to most of the towns you have been to in the north. Members will be glad to know how your experiences were in the southern part of the country?

Mr Awal Mohammed: Growing up in Ashaiman was somehow to me termed "difficult" even though I happened to settle in the midst of fellow northerners. I had to adjust by solely depending on my parents for everything unlike home (north). I also began a new cycle of life where I have to make friends, with that came obstacles due to the language barrier. I couldn't speak the common language (twi) and I've to resort to speaking English and by so doing I earned the name "Nigeria boy" in my street due to constant speaking of English.  

Shamuddeen: You must have really missed home a lot. By the way, can you sum up and compare growing up in the south and the north for members to understand?

Mr Awal Mohammed: In the north as a child living in an extended family where you meet a lot of relatives and having them to teach the culture and traditions of the Mossis, I couldn't meet that expectations when I relocated to Ashaiman. Growing up in the north, childhood games I practiced were the "pilolo", practice playing of the drum, storytelling night where as in the south my games were the "alansa" and PES game.

Moreover, when it comes to festival, been in the south got me to experience festivals like Easter and Xmas of which the people of Bawku has less idea about due to the low number of Christians in the community. The habitants of Bawku have festivals like buud y3lle of the Mossi, Damba for the Mamprusi, Z3kula for the Bissas and Samampiid of the Kusasi and many others.

Coming to talk of seasons, in the north where there are mainly two seasons in a year thus rainy and dry season. During the rainy season the land is beautifully covered with green pastures. In that season, farming is the major activities of most of the family. Crops such as maize, millet, rice, beans as well as potatoes, cabbage, onions, and many others are farmed. As compared to south with quite diverse seasons. And during harmattan, north experiences its severe form as compared to less severe of the south.

Shamuddeen: Since you have stayed in unfamiliar places, members will like to know based on your experiences if you have ever faced with cultural conflicts. As in you being in a situation you did not know what to do, because you felt foreign.

Mr Awal Mohammed:  As earlier stated, it wasn't that easy especially making new friends and communicating due to language barrier. The little friends I could make was those of my classmates after I was enrolled to school and others from the extended family relatives who were staying around.

Shamuddeen: So how difficult was it adjusting between the north and the south?  

Mr Awal Mohammed: In the aspect of adjusting I wouldn't say it was easy or hard to adjust but I was able to excel in it without much difficulties. Like I said, in the north was my best days and after having moved to the south where there existed new family structure, change of income ways thus from farming to trading, having new set of neighbours and also unfamiliar languages, the process of adjusting was normal. In the sense that, there were people including us termed "pepefuo (people from the north)" and some of these people were Dagomba, Grunsi, Zambarma and so on. Their way of life was similar to what was in the north and because of that adjusting transition was a bit okay.

Shamuddeen: As a grown up man, what will you recount as peculiar to your ways of living that was as result of the northern influence?

Mr Awal Mohammed:  Really not much to talk about in the aspect of peculiar lifestyle but one thing I can say is, due to the upbringing in the extended family it has inculcated an extroverted lifestyle in me that enables me to fit easy wherever I go.

Another aspect to talk about is the fact that I love our indigenous northern food much that wherever I found myself, I will try to look for it. Indigenous northern food like TZ, B3n issa, Wasawasa, gabley and so on.

Shamuddeen: I have become more curious to know much about your northern experiences. Members will like to know your general perception of the north?

Mr Awal Mohammed:  Most southerners mistook the people of the north to be of one tribe which is false. The north has diverse tribes with their unique tradition and cultural practices.  The land of the north is fertile in terms of agriculture and animal rearing practices that produces almost 60 percent of the country's total crops. When channelled to good use it can provide jobs in a diverse way that will prevent the high number of immigrants from the north to the south.

And lastly, northern Ghana has low development rate in terms of infrastructure, good roads and even education. It's high time our leaders make it a priority to bring improvement in those aspect in other for the north to enjoy a better life.

Shamuddeen: Please permit me to query you deeper. I know you are going to coo members with your wisdom. In a brief statement, is there something you will like to share with members? Anything you will want to share to distinguish members willingly.

Mr Awal Mohammed: I think I have shared almost everything concerning my northern lifestyles. I apologize if my answers does not help members grasp the imaginary scenes I am trying to put across. However, growing up due to some elements of education and foreign exposure, I had succumbed to discrediting my traditions and culture. In school we always learnt that culture is the ways of living of a particular group of people. But surprisingly our brains always limit culture to only superstitious activities and the traditional worshiping of gods. That's just unfortunate.

I am very glad to have gotten the deeper understanding of the term. I now even believe my way of walking is part of my culture, on the notion that if my accent is part of my culture, then there is no two ways about that. My answer is supposed to be brief so I will end by telling our younger generations that, those northern experiences and challenges they are facing out there in Accra, Takoradi or abroad, it is normal and part of growth. All of us did experience an element of it and we never threw the towel in the ring. In one way or the other people will always remind you who you are, so accept who you are before they do that if not you will feel offended and discriminated.

I really appreciate you Mr Bagura for having me on Northern Heritage tonight. Thank you so much.

My Northern Experience is an interview session with a guest to project and highlight the peculiar northern lifestyles, this segment offers opportunity to members to share their experiences and encounters with northern lifestyles and culture.

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